More Montezuma shorebirds

On Wednesday I met Steve Brenner for a couple hours of scanning the shorebird flocks at Knox-Marcellus Marsh in the Montezuma NWR. We met pretty early in the morning and passerines were moving around as we drove out Towpath Rd. The Bobolinks constantly flying overhead provided a nice audio background with their ever-present bink calls. We found a couple of warblers including Yellow, Common Yellowthroat and Chestnut-sided Warbler. The highlight for me was a cooperative Yellow-throated Vireo that would occasionally belt out a couple notes of its raspy song.

Yellow-throated Vireo (Steve Brenner)

But wait you say, this was supposed to be a shorebird post! Patience, patience, here it comes.

distant shorebird habitat (Drew Weber)

The pool had dried up some since I was last there, pushing the shorebirds even further out from the road. Luckily we were there before the heat shimmer got bad, but it was still tough to see all the birds. Luckily, a young Peregrine Falcon was haunting the area, and would occasionally flush all the peeps into the air. This was convenient as it gave us a chance to estimate how many birds were there.

Peregrine Falcon (Drew Weber)

There were also a couple Trumpeter Swans hanging out, seemingly oblivious of all the birds milling around them.

Trumpeter Swans with shorebirds, Green-winged Teal and Canada Geese in the foreground (Steve Brenner)

We spent a long time picking through the peeps looking for something that wasn’t a Killdeer or Semipalmated Plover, or Least or Semipalmated Sandpiper. On one of our early scans, we found three birds that stuck out like sore thumbs as the scooted around, swimming in the shallow water…Red-necked Phalaropes! This was one of our targets. While working through the peeps we found a single White-rumped and 2 Baird’s Sandpipers.

Here is what we estimated shorebird-wise for the morning.
Black-bellied Plover 2
Semipalmated Plover 200
Killdeer 100
Greater Yellowlegs 30
Lesser Yellowlegs 120
Semipalmated Sandpiper x
Least Sandpiper x
White-rumped Sandpiper 1
Baird’s Sandpiper 2
peep sp. 2000
Pectoral Sandpiper 50
Stilt Sandpiper 2
Short-billed Dowitcher 1
Long-billed Dowitcher 1
Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher 5
Red-necked Phalarope 3

A trip to a big marsh and wetlands complex wouldn’t be complete without a Northern Harrier, so here is the obligatory photo of the young harrier that harrassed the shorebirds while we were there.

Northern Harrier (Steve Brenner)